Regifting Can Be 'Green' If Done the Right Way

The practice of regifting has been the butt of many jokes throughout the years. Some people are known to be serial regifters, and family and friends dread exchanging gifts with these people. However, is it tacky or trendy to give away the items received that can't be returned or put to good use?

Regifting in a sense is recycling of merchandise that may otherwise end up in the garbage. Individuals who are serious about making strides to protect the environment say that regifting is being "green."

Done with finesse, regifting can be a handy and happy holiday experience. Done the wrong way, however, it is a recipe for family feuds or awkward situations with friends. According to a 2006 Tassimo survey, 78 percent of Americans feel that it is acceptable to regift some or most of the time. Here are some ways to handle regifting in a tactful manner.

Regifting should not simply be a method of pawning off items that are detested or ugly. Only regift items that will have utility for someone else -- even if they do not fit into your lifestyle. For example, duplicates of personal appliances or too many baby outfits in one size can be passed on to another.

If you're interested in recycling, regift for the right reasons. Let the recipient know that you're concerned about saving the planet and are passing on this "new" item to him or her to be environmentally responsible.

Do not regift items that have been previously used -- even if you saved the foam and other packaging material. A recipient will not appreciate a pair of pants that have the tags removed and have been laundered twice.

Do update the wrapping paper on regifted items. It is still a gift after all. It is tacky to simply pass the gift on as is. Also, by not changing the wrapping paper, you run the risk of leaving a gift tag or card in place with your name on it instead of the new recipient's.

Do not regift outdated items, even if the tags are still in place. It will be an obvious regift if you're giving away a tie-dyed concert T-shirt from 1986.

Don't regift items that are standard holiday "safe" gifts and ones the recipient probably doesn't want anyhow. These include boxed cologne or perfume sets that feature knock-offs of designer fragrances, scarves and gloves, bootleg DVDs or video games, random books, or other items that can be purchased from a street vendor.

It's not a good idea to regift food items, either. You run the risk of the food having gone stale. Plus, food gifts -- unless purchased for a foodie with specific culinary interests -- tend to be tacky to begin with. How many sausage and cheese baskets does one person need?

Be sure to regift to a different social circle. That means if you have something from a work friend you may be able to pass it on to a family member. If there is any chance of the previous gift-giver seeing his or her gift used by another person, avoid regifting.

When all else fails, and Aunt Betsy's gifted cross-stitch bath towels adorned with unicorns will not be appropriate for anyone on your gift list, consider selling them. Chances are someone on popular auction sites will want items up for regifting. After all, "one man's trash is another man's treasure."